Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Healthy Eating Reduces Risk Of Depression

Mental Health

“Worries go down better with soup than without.”
Jewish Proverb

Healthy EatingJames McIntosh writes: “The noticeable difference occurs when participants start to follow a healthier diet. Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression. However, we saw no extra benefit when participants showed high or very high adherence to the diets.”
Photo Credit & Source: Medical News Today

An article, by James McIntosh, in Medical News Today says that individuals who make healthy eating choices associated with the Mediterranean diet have less risk of being diagnosed with depression.  While this diet has been studied on its ability to reduce the risks of coronary diseases and cancer, this is among the few studies that looks at the collaboration between diet and mental health and well-being.

Mental illness is a serious and debilitating illness and is quite common, says Medical News Today in another recent article on this subject: “In the UK, Canada, the USA and much of the developed world, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability among people aged 15 to 44.” For example, in the United States, about 57.7 million Americans suffer from some mental disorder in a given year, equating to more than one-quarter of the nation’s adults. Thus, if any proactive measure can reduce the possibility, if not the probability, of mental illness, it ought to be considered seriously.

In “Adhering to a healthy diet could reduce risk of depression” (September 17, 2015), McIntosh writes:
The study, published in BMC Medicine, found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet, the Pro-vegetarian Dietary Pattern or Alternative Eating Index-2010 appeared to play a protective role against the illness.
"We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds," explains lead researcher Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain. "These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health."
While much research has been carried out assessing the role of diet in the prevention of noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, far less attention has been paid to the influence of diet on the development of mental disorders.
For the study, the researchers chose to compare three dietary patterns that had previously been found to have inverse associations with mortality from different diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
What we consume is important, and all the more so if we acknowledge that each of us has been born with a particular set of genes that can affect our health, in both good and bad ways. While we can’t control or change our initial genetic make-up, we can have some control on how our over-all health. (There have been studies, including one recently, which show that our environment can affect our genes in beneficial ways.)

In short, we can help ourselves, which includes not only our physical bodies but also our minds—the seat of our mental, emotional and intellectual life—by consuming the foods from which we benefit, “The protective role is ascribed to their nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) could reduce the risk of depression,” concludes Sánchez-Villegas.

There is a caveat here. Healthy eating does not take place in a vacuum; it is part of a wide and comprehensive world-view that affects personal well-being and satisfaction. It is important to note that persons who are depressed rarely eat well, which leads to a further erosion of health and well-being. Persons who suffer depression also tend to self-isolate and not engage in other healthy activities like physical exercise, including walking and general engagement with the world. Depression often leads to a downward spiral of unhealthiness.

Healthy eating, it must be said, takes a desire to make healthy choices and an ability to carry out such desires. When individuals have purpose and meaning in their lives, such choices are easier to implement. It is also easier if such persons view themselves as part of a family or community, which confers a high level of meaning and purpose. The ritual of communal eating, common to many religious and cultural practices, can be a great benefit to promoting good mental health. That is, it is better to not eat alone. I would add that food tastes better in the company of others.

For more, go to [MedNewsToday

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